1. Tell your pharmacist if you’re taking any other meds
Pharmacists can’t stress enough how important it is to let them know if you are taking anything other than what you have been prescribed. “You may be taking an over-the-counter medication that is not in your profile,” Moore said. OTC meds may have certain active ingredients that interact with the pills you’re prescribed, leading to side effects.
2. Watch out for some active ingredients in meds
Many medications have aspirin and many cold meds contain acetaminophen, commonly sold as Tylenol. So you may be taking too much Tylenol without even knowing, which may lead to liver toxicity, Moore said. Cold medicines may also contain pseudoephedrine, which can increase heart rate and blood pressure, she added. “Herbal products and vitamins often interact with medications, too.” Ginseng, goldenseal, and St. John’s wort are just a few examples of potent herbs with documented high risk of drug interactions.
3. Over-the-counter does not always mean safe
Sure you may purchase some medications without prescription but that does not mean they are completely harmless, at least not for everyone, Moore noted. Everyone has their own predispositions, whether it’s hypertension, diabetes or an illness. “Always ask your physician before taking any OTC drug if you have a serious condition or if you are already taking another OTC medication.” Ingredients in different drugs may overlap, potentially causing harmful side effects.
4. Ask your pharmacist for generic options
Pharmacists have no control over how much you have to pay for your meds. However, they can suggest a generic version of whatever you are prescribed that will usually be cheaper, Moore said.
5. Check drug manufacturer websites for coupons
In some cases a brand-name medication is the only or the best option to treat a condition. In that case out-of-pocket costs are going to be higher, but some manufacturers may have coupons on their sites for big savings on prescriptions, Moore noted. You may also ask your doctor for coupons or use apps that will show you if there are any coupons available for a specific medication.